Nurses are an integral part of health care, doing far more than many people realize or give them credit. After getting an education and earning their credentials, nurses often pursue advanced degrees that allow them to specialize in one area. Nurse anesthetists follow that path, which could lead to an average annual salary of around $167,000 dollars, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Nurse anesthetists fall into the category of advanced practice registered nurses (APRN). They give patients anesthesia before, during and after medical procedures that require it such as surgery and obstetrical procedures, as well as some therapeutic and diagnostic services. Getting that well-paid position, which is one of the highest among nursing professions, requires dedication, commitment and more education.
First, the candidate must be a registered nurse with a license in good standing. Second, they must have the right degree. While many registered nurses hold a Bachelor of Science Degree (BSN), some have an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Because anesthetist programs earn students a Master’s degree, PhD or post-graduate certificate, all students need to have a BSN. Some schools offer ADN to BSN bridge programs to get associate degree candidates ready for anesthetist school acceptance. Once they have a BSN, it’s important to enroll in an accredited program. Typically, these programs last 24-to-36 months and include class coursework and clinical experiences.
Average Salary for Nurse Anesthetists Graduates
After graduation, the amount earned depends on the type of place where the nurse works. Since the $167,000 is an average, some nurse anesthetists make much more and others make less. On the lower salary end, nurse anesthetists working at colleges, universities and professional schools earn an average of $160,000 a year. Most nurse anesthetists work in doctor’s offices, which can pay an average of $168,000 a year. Those working for outpatient care centers have the highest average pay, which is around $194,000 a year. Other top paying employment options include employment services, government facilities, home health care services and general hospitals. Specialty hospitals are also high paying for nurse anesthetists, earning them an average of $181,000 a year. This does not include psychiatric or substance abuse facilities.
Geographic Impact on Nursing Salaries
Salaries in this field also vary by geography, meaning that nurse anesthetist earnings go up or down depending on the physical location of the job. Using the U.S. BLS records, Montana offers the highest average salary of all states and Puerto Rico. The pay averages about $246,000 a year, which breaks down to about $118 per hour. The rest of the top five highest paying states for this field of health care are California, Iowa, Oregon and Wisconsin. The average nurse anesthetist salary in these states falls between $204,000 and $212,000 a year. Hourly pay rates in these four states runs between $98 an hour and $102 per hour.
On the other end of the pay scale are the lowest paying locations. Of all places counted, Puerto Rico comes in much lower than the others. Nurse anesthetist pay in the U.S. territory averages just below $28 dollars an hour, which earns the nurse about $58,000 a year. Among the states, Idaho has the lowest average pay. Hourly rates are $68.88, which means the average yearly pay is around $143,000. Arizona offers the second lowest average pay. Hourly, nurse anesthetists can expect an average of $69.55, and that gives them an average annual salary of about $144,000. Tennessee, Georgia and Indiana round out the rest of the five lowest paying states for nurse anesthetist careers. Average hourly rates in these three states ranges from $72 to $75, and the average yearly salaries range from $150,000 to $156,000.
Even salaries on the lower end are still impressive, and there are employment opportunities in these and other states that offer higher pay. For example, in the lowest paid state, Idaho, some nurse anesthetist are on the higher salary end for the location and earn up to $170,000 a year. In Arizona, the highest pay goes up to $189,000, and the pay shoots up to $195,000 a year for the highest paid nurse anesthetists in Tennessee.
A Career as a Nurse Anesthetists is Lucrative
Regardless of where nurse anesthetists end up practicing their profession, they can expect higher salaries than most other workers and professions in the United States. A big part of the reason for the excellent pay is that nurse anesthetists hold the lives of patient’s in their hands. These health care professionals must be educated and highly trained to do their job properly and know how to respond quickly and effectively if something goes wrong during a medical procedure. To ensure they are qualified, graduates of nurse anesthetist programs must take the National Certification Exam (NCE) and pass to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). This is required to get a state license. Exceptions to this are in New York and Pennsylvania. While both states require nurse anesthetists to be certified, they do not require them to hold a state license.
Nurse anesthetist is a great field to consider for nurses looking to go into advanced care practice. According to the U.S. BLS, the field is growing. The job outlook for advanced practice registered nurses, which includes nurse anesthetists, will increase by 31 percent by the year 2026. That means nurse anesthetists are and will be in demand, and job prospects are good.
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